21 November 2015

Number 4

She finally came.  Our baby girl.  Our tiny number 4.  Our little M.  And for someone so small, what great joy and sweetness she has brought with her.  I am so completely in love with this newest little one of ours.  Even her mewling cries are sweet.  The others are over the moon too, especially the kids!  They are forever asking to hold her, burp her, change and bathe her.  She has a beautiful story too, quite different from her siblings.  

By the way, that gorgeous green hat was knitted by my dear friend Kim.  (She even included a felt flower to sew on in case it was a girl, which she was!)  Thank you so much for thinking of us my dear friend.   You are a sweetheart.    

So little M.  She came late, but she came quickly.  I am so thankful that she was born on her own with no interventions and no drugs.  (My midwives were just wonderful - I couldn't have done it without them, and I'm not just saying that.)  It really has made a difference in the speed at which I've been able to recover and get back on my feet.  For the most part, I feel like I am living in a bit of a bubble nowadays.  Not so much because my head is buried in the sand but because this baby sets my routine.  Lots of feeding, changing, and snuggles.  It all sounds so rosy, but it kind of is right now.  (I'll let you know when that changes!)  I am in the "honeymoon" phase where the sleeplessness and crying doesn't bother me at all.  In fact, I'm rather enamoured by it.  :)  Honeymoon indeed!  

Perhaps the reason for this is because D and my mom have been a huge help.  Between cleaning the house, making food, taking the other kids, soothing baby when needed so I can rest, they have literally spoiled me.  Little M is not the only one who's being taken care of.  I am too!  I was so anxious before, but now I feel a little like a queen.  If this is how women used to be cared for in the old days, it's no wonder they had so many kids.   

I have been able to spend time sewing this past week.  J's dress is done except for those buttons at the back.  Such a pretty jumper.  I think next time though, I won't do the gathering for the skirt.  At least not with corduroy.  It's too thick and bulky of a fabric to really work well that way.  Still, I do love it, and so does J, who keeps at me to finish it so she can wear it to church on Sunday.  I think it's because of the pink sash.  She really wanted the whole thing to be pink, but I don't think she minded it at all once she saw that sash and little rosebud.  :)  

I am also finishing off the binding for that much-talked-about quilt.  Except I keep forgetting to take a picture.  So you'll have to wait for me to show it off next time.  I have promised the kids we will do a little pine cone craft tomorrow, so the quilt may have to wait until during the week.  No problem by me!  

While I was in the hospital, I started working on two crocheted birds.  Turtle doves actually.  I'm hoping to make a crocheted wreath for a special someone this Christmas.  I don't think she checks my blog out, but I'll wait to post pictures until later.  Besides, I keep forgetting to photograph that too!  (Mama brain is not a myth, my friends!)

Since baby M's arrival, we stopped reading together for a few days.  I missed our routine so much though, I couldn't wait to get back to it.  It's a little more challenging with 4 crawling all over me, but we're managing.  As long as they have a snack to distract them when baby interrupts, the older ones do just fine. 

And that is where we are right now.  Getting back to our routine as much as possible and enjoying our little blessing.  And enjoying each other too.  These little monkeys are so precious!  I can't believe how they have grown.  

Before I sign off, I wanted to share a beautiful quote I found yesterday.  It really resonated with me.  I felt like, yes, this is why we need to slow down and simplify.  

"The more people deviate from the natural simple life and move toward luxury, the more human stress increases.  And as worldly politeness expands, simplicity, joy and the natural human smile are lost."  (Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos)  

10 November 2015

Going inside

I have had this bad habit lately of leaving the house without my camera.  Lately, we've been trying to take the kids outside after dinner before it gets dark.  A nice walk or bike ride to the park nearby is what they love.  This means dinner is quite early, obviously, since it gets dark by around 6pm.  But I always seem to forget the camera!  Which bums me out because there are so many things to capture and remember!  Those gorgeous leaves, the little antics of three monkeys, little critters around us, sunsets.  Everything is wonderful and beautiful and it kind of leaves me silent after soaking it up.  Alas, I have no pictures to share them with you here.  But I imagine you are able to experience most of what I'm talking about, and perhaps to a greater degree.  And that is a comforting thought.

The crisp weather is here to stay it seems, although we had a warm spell last week.  Even my children are turning more towards making things and "quieter" activities.  Don't get me wrong, they are still full of boundless energy.  And sometimes I feel the lack of space most acutely.  But their plans are veering towards more handiwork and less outside work.  (More fine motor and less gross motor?)  I have some nice winter crafts ready for them in the coming weeks, especially for Christmas gifts, and they are really looking forward to them.  M wants to make a snake out of yarn, so I think finger knitting is going to be big with him for a while.  :)

And this mama has a whole whirl of projects going on.  From hats to sweaters to jumpers to quilts.  Only baby is going to slow me down!  :)  And perhaps not even.  For you see, it is easy to crochet or knit even with little ones.  So we wait (and not very patiently anymore) for our newest baby to come out and fill our lives with more joy!

Happy Tuesday!

1 November 2015

Daily updates, Sunday dinner and popcorn

Just wanted to share a quick knitting update.  I only have the front left side to finish and then sew the underarm seams.  It's a little wonky in places because my gauge is not quite uniform.  Behold the beginner!  Despite the imperfections, I think it's still a sweet little sweater.  I just can't wait to see if our little one or another baby girl will get to wear it.  (And here's me already mentally working on a new boy's sweater in grey!)

We have been going easy on schoolwork since school actually started.  It sounds logical since we're not technically homeschooling, but normally, "school" is much more than academics.  It is a complete life experience.  They learn cooking, cleaning, taking care of themselves and their environments and everything else that this wonderful life entails, including reading and writing and arithmetic.  :)

However, with D-day so close, and me so tired most of the time, we tend to take an even simpler approach.  A little reading together, washing the dishes, washing off the table, putting laundry away, a little sewing or other handiwork.  My sweet little son took up an embroidery needle for the first time this past week and made a little stocking for his teacher.  He was "practicing" for the Christmas gifts we plan to make, but he did so well.  He was just full of pride!  And he was absorbed for a while finishing his task - always careful to make sure the sharp needle didn't prick his fingers.  I love watching them fall in love with creating.

We've had some leftover ham in the fridge for a bit which needed using up.  I was going to make a potato ham chowder, then I thought we could do a ham quiche.   I ended up making a simple casserole.  And I'm so glad I did.  Roasted potatoes, steamed broccoli and ham, drizzled with olive oil, a dash of salt and sprinkled with cheese.  Nothing fancy, but 100% comfort food.  And there you have it, Sunday dinner!  :)  

I found this recipe here and I made a few minor adjustments.  It is really a delicious recipe for caramel popcorn and my little ones gobbled it all up in no time.  (Guess that means we need a double recipe for the future...)  I also love that it doesn't have corn syrup involved.  Plus, it takes very little time to throw it all together.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt (can cut it to 1/2 tsp if desired)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp sunflower oil

6 cups air popped corn (I think it's like 1/3 cup kernels?)  

Pour maple syrup into a small pot.  Heat until boiling.  Add rest of ingredients except salt and keep stirring over heat for about 2-3 minutes.  (Turn heat down only if about to overflow.)  Pour over popcorn and mix well.  Sprinkle salt and mix well.  Place on baking tray and spread evenly.  Bake at 300 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Break into pieces

27 October 2015

Changing seasons

With the changing of the seasons comes some sniffles and sick days.  And that's where we are right now.  Sniffles, congestion, coughing, upset tummies and a bout of croup for little S.  That hasn't been very fun, but she's such a trooper.  For a sick toddler, she has slept remarkably well on a mattress beside our bed.  Just within reach of mama's hand.  There she is helping me knead some dough.  Little darling.

The kids seem to be coping better than D and I.  They're on the mend after a few days and we are battling a prolonged version.  I suppose nothing lasts forever, but many are the nights whereon we've wished to be as resilient as our babies.

In the meantime, we are managing with some old fashioned remedies.  Bone broths, lots of flax seed tea, hot lemonades and saline.  The flax seed tea I've found to be somewhat helpful before bed in calming the coughing.  I mean, it's not magic, but it helps with the mucous.  Little J and D have also been drinking lots of hot lemonade.  And we've all been eating plenty of vegetables.  With a little vegan zucchini bread.  :)  Somehow it sits well with little tummies.  

And somehow I am making the time to sew a little.  Every day just a little.  Cut out the pattern, cut out the fabric.  Slowly, slowly.  It's enough.  And the quilt is done save for the binding.  That is a very happy thought!  I can't wait to share it here once I get that binding sewed on.  Right now I am working on a corduroy jumper for J.  She has no winter dresses and loves to wear them.  My mom had a large swath of navy corduroy, and so here we are!  

Enjoy the week!

20 October 2015

Cookery and some yarn projects

I've been finding that life is pretty messy these days.  It gets to me insofar as I feel powerless to do anything about it, but otherwise, I have been trying to embrace it more.  (Hurray for progress!)

The kitchen is still our main hub of activity.  Food is always needing to be made, eaten or preserved.  We have been on a bit of a pizza spree for the past month.  Translation: we've made pizza about 4 times so far.  This is a spree for us.  I think this is mostly because I've been wanting to perfect a pizza recipe for a while.  I took a base recipe and tweaked it a bit here and there.  I don't remember where I got the original recipe, but with the modifications, it's a really great one.  (At least we think so here...)  Anyhow.  You can bet my little sous chefs have been involved in these adventures.  In fact, on Saturday they made the pizza themselves.  I did the dough and then took a nap while it was rising.  Afterwards, I gave each kid a lump of dough and they did the rest.  It was actually pretty neat sitting back and letting them go.  I have to learn to do that more often.  I thought J would have problems with the rolling, but she was great!  All her own elbow grease and no mama help.  Just what a 4-year-old needs for confidence!

By the way, making pizza is messy, even without kids.  Imagine how much more so with the kids doing the work.  That's part of what I mean about life being messy.  And I'm ok with it.  Because hey, my kids made dinner for me!  And because they were happy doing it!  And because learning to take care of themselves and others is a priceless skill.  (We just need to work on the clean-up part afterwards...)

Right now in the kitchen, a pot of soup is simmering on the stove - a savoury beef and chunky vegetable soup.  Just the thing for a crisp, cold autumn day.  Also, precious little can beat a good bone broth in my books.  We also have a tray of granola cooling on the counter which S and I whipped up this morning.  This time, we're trying granola bars, not just the usual loose granola.  (It's a first for me.)  I figure we'll be needing some snacks for around when baby decides to debut.  We put in peanuts, raisins, and dark chocolate chips.  (My kids will eat anything if it has chocolate chips inside, so I try to take full advantage of that fact.)  It looks like they turned out great, so I just need to package them up and store.

Outside of the kitchen, M has some upcoming projects for school.  This has kept us busy and promises to do so for the coming week.  Thankfully, we have split things up into manageable chunks instead of cramming it all into one day.  But still, I've promised myself that I'm throwing in the towel after this!  (Hello, new baby coming!)  I miss my quiet, uneventful routine!  Waaa!

I've gone back to knitting.  That is, I've been alternating between crocheting some hooded cowls and finishing the sweater for baby.  The cowls will be Christmas gifts, so I won't share them here.  I am happy to have at least a few handmade items for this year.  I don't think we'll come close to last year, but that's ok.  There is still time and lots of love to go around regardless.  I don't know if I mentioned it before, but my darlings unraveled most of my previous knitting.  I couldn't salvage it, so we finished the job and I started over.  Thankfully, I sized it properly this time around.  (It was too big before.)  I have made a note to try and keep my knitting out of reach for now, but I do like to take it out at frequent intervals when I need to sit down, so it always manages to end up on the side table or sofa.  I am tempting fate, I suppose.  But those little hands are curious, and those little brown eyes so sweet and honest when caught unravelling stitches.  Somehow, I didn't mind as much as I thought I would.

And since it feels like this blog sometimes reads like a to-do list, I thought I'd add that I am looking into putting up some pumpkin and squash before the season finishes.  It's just so nice to have some on hand for soups in the fall/winter.  I'm starting to genuinely loathe canned food.  And it's not only about the taste, although there are worlds of difference in taste between fresh/dried/frozen vs canned.  When I read about what they line the cans with, I think to myself, "No wonder we're struggling with all these health problems!"  There is something to be said for putting nutritious, wholesome, real food into our bodies.  And that desire is fuelled even stronger when you are responsible for little ones.  Every season, every year, we try to do something else to further our journey towards eating properly and truly enjoying God's bounty.  

Now if only I can motivate myself to exercise a little more!  I suppose running around after 3 will have to suffice for now.  

7 October 2015

Life is full right now!

While not always punctual, it seems that I have fallen into weekend blogging.  Meaning, I usually post after the weekend has passed, and often about the weekend too.  It seems to work for now.  We are busy enjoying each other during that time, and after all that connecting, I am only too happy to come here and unload all that joy.  :)  Of course, it's not all fun and games.  There are definitely rough patches in our lives.  I struggle often on what to share and what not to.  It's not just my my story to tell.  I want to respect the other members of my household, and those others who touch our lives as well.

So just for the record, there are many things that happen around here (as everywhere else I'm sure) that are not seen.  In all things though, I do try to focus on the positive because it is easy to get sucked into a negative "energy" vortex, and I personally tend to often veer towards the melodramatic.  (And pregnancy hormones do NOT help with that...)  So this is a place where I try to focus on and remember and celebrate the beauty and blessings around me.  And I am 100% sincere in what I write.  Every single word.

I mentioned I've been trying to sew that quilt a few strips at a time.  Well, I've finished piecing the squares together and now needs pin the strips together to sew up.  I am happy that this sewing rhythm is not eating into other important parts of our days.  My dear mama came by on Friday to help me make and freeze a batch of meat and cheese pies.  They are safely in the freezer (minus a dozen or so that the kids gobbled up) for when baby comes.  While I don't have a large freezer, I am trying to stock up on food for when things are especially crazy.  You just never know.  I am hoping I can squeeze at least one or two more such sessions before D-day arrives.  We'll see.

Just as we ran out of apples, D decided to take us apple-picking again.  If you haven't noticed, apple-picking is not just a once-a-season affair for us.  We are not tourists about it.  We love our apples.  And we love picking them ourselves as they come in season.  It is so satisfying to tune in to nature's timeline.  This time we got some Golden Delicious, Jonagold (duh!) and we had some Macintosh and Mutsu to round things out.  I think there will be at least one last run before the season is over.  Too bad we don't have an extra fridge.  I'm convinced it would be devoted to at least 90% apple storage if so.  And while I'm at it, I wish we had our OWN orchard!  Now THAT would be awesome!  Just mosey on out into your backyard and pick a few whenever you wanted...  A gal can dream.  

M made a poster in french for the letter "M" for school this past week.  He was so into it.  I mean, I got into it too, but he was hardcore.  (I did the drawings, and he did the colouring, writing and glueing.)  We had finished working on it the night before and that was that.  In the morning, M woke up at 6:30, came to me (thankfully I was already awake) and said very seriously, "Mom, we forgot something.  We forgot 'masque'."  And he proceeded to coach me on how to draw a mask for him to colour and glue it on a small empty patch right up near the corn.  Hilarious kid.  Although, I imagine how it would've been less hilarious had he actually woken me up.  

The school adventures don't stop there.  Aside from reading (boy is she getting speedy at spelling!), J is obsessed with pets.  Not the typical kind, mind you.  I mean snails, spiders and all things small.  She brought home a snail from school.  There is a wall outside the school apparently, that with the changing of seasons has had quite an array of snails stuck to it.   So my darling daughter put one in her backpack and brought it home.  Of course, she lost it for a while because it had climbed up the other side of the pocket she zipped it in, but once we found it again, all was well.  I do feel badly as the snail died a couple days later.  I told her he (or she?) needed to be outside and that was the best place for little critters.  So far she hasn't brought any more home, so perhaps the message resonated?  Although when she and M found a spider in the bedroom, they put it in a cup and kept it for a couple of days before D kindly let it outside.  Not before they accidentally crushed some of its legs with a small pebble they put inside the cup though...   (Apparently they wanted spidey to have a rock to rest on.)  I think we need to work on that before we look into getting any real pets.  :)

So yes.  It is Wednesday and we are halfway through the week.  My how time flies.  I don't feel any "nesting" instincts kicking in so far, which is a little disappointing.  It's nice to have all that energy to work.  Most days I'm practically forcing myself to go through the motions.  Thank God for D.  And for all these little hands who love to help out mama (well, most days...).  I suppose there's still time.

Wishing you a wonderful week! 

27 September 2015

Hello, Fall!

It seems that with the coming of each season, our routine changes.  I have discovered that I don't like change very much.  At least, not when it throws me out of my comfort zone.  :)  Fall is upon us, though the temperatures have been very kind.  School has started, and while the kids are adjusting, mama it seems is still have a tough time with it all.

I can't seem to share the opinion of many parents when their kids start school.  To me, I'd rather have my babies around me.  We had a wonderful summer together.  Just wonderful.  I'm not ready to let that go.  Time is a precious gift.  It really let me connect with each child one-on-one at random times during the day.  I honestly felt that we had such a great routine going for us in the summer - profitable, relaxing, exciting and basically just right for us.  Now, I am rushing to get out the door on time without being able to truly connect with each one beforehand - at least not regularly.  I miss our less stressful mornings!

What I do love though is our evening routine.  Once they've finished any homework they have, we go outside to the park or wherever, and they run and play.  (D is great with that part!)  Then we come home, bathe if needed, get into pjs, have a snack, and cuddle up on the sofa to read.  And we read and read.  All three of them.  All over me.  Climbing, switching places, gently softing my belly, and then random conversations ensue.  Lots of questions, mental exploring, processing, revealing whatever's on their mind.  Oh, how I love that time.  I look forward to it all day.

And there are always weekends too.  In the fall, our weekends shift focus.  We are more eager to spend time together, so sometimes that means staying put.  Other times, there are soccer games, visits with family and friends, apple picking.  We've been apple-picking twice so far.  We suddenly decided to go last minute on Thursday.  So we picked up the kids from school and drove up to Dixie Orchards.  (I'm so glad for these last minute plans of ours sometimes!)  They were picking our favourite apple, jonagolds.  So we brought home a nice almost 1/2 bushel.  I suspect there will be more trips like that this month.  :)  The kiddies loved the play area and the animals.  J wanted to take a chick home!  They were only 8 days old - all fuzzy and peeping as they pecked at an apple.  How can you blame her!  

For this weekend there is food.  Thank God!  After a week of leftovers and last minute meals, there is a pot of chili on the stove.  And spinach with ground beef to serve with rice.  Like I said, thank God.  This mama is getting more tired each day.  I wish I had the energy to bake some fresh bread.  Maybe after I have a nap?  (I always say that and it never happens, but a gal can hope!)

Then again, there are so many creative projects awaiting, so perhaps I will get distracted in that vein.  Like this adorable Arctic fox hooded cowl that I crocheted in an evening.  (The yarn was super thick and worked up really fast, which I love!)  Except my youngest thinks she looks more like a cat.  What do you think?  Fox or cat?  

Joining Ginny and friends for this week's Yarn Along.